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Is it possible to be spiritual and yet not believe in the supernatural? Can a person be spiritual without belonging to a religious group or organization? In this book, philosopher Robert Solomon offers challenging answers to these questions as he explodes commonly held myths about what is means to be spiritual in today's pluralistic world. Based on Solomon's own struggles to reconcile philosophy with religion, Spirituality for the Skeptic offers a model of a vibrant, fulfilling spirituality that embraces the complexities of human existence and acknowledges the joys and tragedies of life. Solomon has forged an enlightened new path that synthesizes spirituality with emotions, intellect, science, and common sense. His new paradigm, "naturalized" spirituality, establishes as its cornerstone the "thoughtful love of life"--a passionate concern for the here-and-now, and not the by-and-by. Being spiritual doesn't mean being holed up as a recluse, spending hours in meditation and contemplation, Solomon argues. It demands involvement and emotional engagement with others in the struggle to find meaning in our lives. As such, this modern-day spirituality encompasses a passionate enthusiasm for the world, the transformation of self, cosmic trust and rationality, coming to terms with fate, and viewing life as a gift, all of which are explored in depth throughout this book. Spirituality for the Skeptic answers the need for a non-institutional, non-dogmatic spirituality that leads to personal fulfillment and satisfaction. By examining the ideas of great thinkers from Socrates and Nietzsche to Buddha to Kafka, Solomon arrives at a practical vision of spirituality that should appeal to many seekers looking to make sense of the human condition.
We live our lives through our emotions, writes Robert Solomon, and it is our emotions that give our lives meaning. What interests or fascinates us, who we love, what angers us, what moves us, what bores us--all of this defines us, gives us character, constitutes who we are. In True to Our Feelings, Solomon illuminates the rich life of the emotions--why we don't really understand them, what they really are, and how they make us human and give meaning to life. Emotions have recently become a highly fashionable area of research in the sciences, with brain imaging uncovering valuable clues as to how we experience our feelings. But while Solomon provides a guide to this cutting-edge research, as well as to what others--philosophers and psychologists--have said on the subject, he also emphasizes the personal and ethical character of our emotions. He shows that emotions are not something that happen to us, nor are they irrational in the literal sense--rather, they are judgements we make about the world, and they are strategies for living in it. Fear, anger, love, guilt, jealousy, compassion--they are all essential to our values, to living happily, healthily, and well. Solomon highlights some of the dramatic ways that emotions fit into our ethics and our sense of the good life, how we can make our emotional lives more coherent with our values and be more "true to our feelings" and cultivate emotional integrity. The story of our lives is the story of our passions. We fall in love, we are gripped by scientific curiosity and religious fervor, we fear death and grieve for others, we humble ourselves in envy, jealousy, and resentment. In this remarkable book, Robert Solomon shares his fascination with the emotions and illuminates our passions in an exciting new way.
Philosophers since Aristotle have explored emotion, and the study of emotion has always been essential to the love of wisdom. In recent years Anglo-American philosophers have rediscovered and placed new emphasis on this very old discipline. The view that emotions are ripe for philosophical analysis has been supported by a considerable number of excellent publications. In this volume, Robert Solomon brings together some of the best Anglo-American philosophers now writing on the philosophy of emotion, with chapters from philosophers who have distinguished themselves in the field of emotion research and have interdisciplinary interests, particularly in the social and biological sciences. The reader will find a lively variety of positions on topics such as the nature of emotion, the category of "emotion," the rationality of emotions, the relationship between an emotion and its expression, the relationship between emotion, motivation, and action, the biological nature versus social construction of emotion, the role of the body in emotion, the extent of freedom and our control of emotions, the relationship between emotion and value, and the very nature and warrant of theories of emotion. In addition, this book acknowledges that it is impossible to study the emotions today without engaging with contemporary psychology and the neurosciences, and moreover engages them with zeal. Thus the essays included here should appeal to a broad spectrum of emotion researchers in the various theoretical, experimental, and clinical branches of psychology, in addition to theorists in philosophy, philosophical psychology, moral psychology, and cognitive science, the social sciences, and literary theory.
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most popular and controversial philosophers of the last 150 years. Narcissistic, idiosyncratic, hyperbolic, irreverent--never has a philosopher been appropriated, deconstructed, and scrutinized by such a disparate array of groups, movements, and schools of thought. Adored by many for his passionate ideas and iconoclastic style, he is also vilified for his lack of rigor, apparent cruelty, and disdain for moral decency. In Living with Nietzsche, Solomon suggests that we read Nietzsche from a very different point of view, as a provocative writer who means to transform the way we view our lives. This means taking Nietzsche personally. Rather than focus on the "true" Nietzsche or trying to determine "what Nietzsche really meant" by his seemingly random and often contradictory pronouncements about "the Big Questions" of philosophy, Solomon reminds us that Nietzsche is not a philosopher of abstract ideas but rather of the dazzling personal insight, the provocative challenge, the incisive personal probe. He does not try to reveal the eternal verities but he does powerfully affect his readers, goading them to see themselves in new and different ways. It is Nietzsche's compelling invitation to self-scrutiny that fascinates us, engages us, and guides us to a "rich inner life." Ultimately, Solomon argues, Nietzsche is an example as well as a promulgator of "passionate inwardness," a life distinguished by its rich passions, exquisite taste, and a sense of personal elegance and excellence.
The idea that we are in some significant sense responsible for our emotions is an idea that Robert Solomon has developed for almost three decades. Here, in a single volume, he traces the development of this theory of emotions and elaborate it in detail. Two themes run through his work: the first presents a "cognitive" theory of emotions in which emotions are construed primarily as evaluative judgments. The second proposes an "existentialist" perspective in which he defends the idea that, as we are responsible for our emotions. Indeed, sometimes it even makes sense to say that we "choose" them. While the first claim has gained increasing currency in the literature, his claim about responsibility for emotions has continued to meet with considerable resistance and misinterpretation. The new emphasis on evolutionary biology and neurology has (mistakenly) reinforced the popular prejudice that emotions "happen" to us and are entirely beyond our control. This volume is also a kind of intellectual memoir of Solomon1s own development as a thinker. The essays written in the 1980s elaborate the themes of the "intentionality" of emotion and the claim that emotions are "judgments"; in this period, he is also increasingly preoccupied with how emotions vary and are identified in a variety of cultures. In the 1990's, his interests evolve to consider the social and political role of emotions and theories about emotion. The final section presents his current philosophical position on the seeming "passivity" of the passions. Despite his own critical assessment of his earlier work, he continues to argue that, in the final analysis, we are responsible for our emotions and existential quality of our lives.
Is it possible to be spiritual and yet not believe in the supernatural? Can a person be spiritual without belonging to a religious group or organization? In this book, philosopher Robert Solomon offers challenging answers to these questions as he explodes commonly held myths about what is means to be spiritual in today's pluralistic world. Based on Solomon's own struggles to reconcile philosophy with religion, Spirituality for the Skeptic offers a model of a vibrant, fulfilling spirituality that embraces the complexities of human existence and acknowledges the joys and tragedies of life. Solomon has forged an enlightened new path that synthesizes spirituality with emotions, intellect, science, and common sense. His new paradigm, "naturalized" spirituality, establishes as its cornerstone the "thoughtful love of life"--a passionate concern for the here-and-now, and not the by-and-by. Being spiritual doesn't mean being holed up as a recluse, spending hours in meditation and contemplation, Solomon argues. It demands involvement and emotional engagement with others in the struggle to find meaning in our lives. As such, this modern-day spirituality encompasses a passionate enthusiasm for the world, the transformation of self, cosmic trust and rationality, coming to terms with fate, and viewing life as a gift, all of which are explored in depth throughout this book. Spirituality for the Skeptic answers the need for a non-institutional, non-dogmatic spirituality that leads to personal fulfillment and satisfaction. By examining the ideas of great thinkers from Socrates and Nietzsche to Buddha to Kafka, Solomon arrives at a practical vision of spirituality that should appeal to many seekers looking to make sense of the human condition.
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